Thousands of South Dakotans are flooding the stores to get their hands on the newest, loudest, and brightest fireworks. In the town of Canton, Rock’s Fireworks is no different. However, this year Rock’s Fireworks is celebrating its 50th year anniversary of selling fireworks in the Mt. Rushmore State.
Bill Rock started selling fireworks out of a small stand back in the summer of ’69. Today, it’s exploded into a full-fledged store. Bill is now gone, he passed away in 1998, but his family still runs the business.
One of Bill’s sons, Paul Rock, currently resides in Washington. However, he came back this year to help run the firework store through the 4th of July.
“It's hard to believe it's been 50 years,” explained Paul Rock. “I remember back when we started we had a four by eight plywood shack. I struggled, even at 11 years old, because dad cut the counter a little high and I couldn’t look over the counter to see the people. It's come a long ways. This is fantastic.”
Fast-forward to today and the store has grown into an 80 foot long by 30 foot wide building with nearly 400 different fireworks for people to purchase.
Paul’s brother Bernie, who lives in Canton, said the biggest change he’s seen over his time of working with fireworks is how the product keeps getting bigger and louder each year.
“Dad’s been gone 21-years, and up to that point we had one item that went up in the air pretty good and that had a loud bang, and that was basically the biggest thing we had. Now you’ve got these nine shot, three-inch, multi-shot shells, and these giant artillery shells,” said Bernie Rock. “I tell everybody if my dad was alive today, he wouldn’t believe how these [fireworks] have changed. It’s amazing what consumer fireworks people can buy, and it’s a really special thing for South Dakota.”
Both brothers are proof that fireworks have become apart of the Rock families DNA. If there’s one thing that has stayed consistent over the past half century, it’s the small town, friendly vibe that Rocks Fireworks gives off.
“Dad got the customers to come at first, and he got them to keep coming. He greeted them with a smile, gave them an honest price, and he just loved people coming in,” described Bernie Rock. “We’re just trying to carry on his tradition, what he started, and it’s been going really good for us for 50 years now.”
Along with selling Fireworks to the public, each year on the 4th of July, Rock’s Fireworks puts on their own celebration display for the people in the area.